(7 minute read)
“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you (James 4:8a, ESV).”
In 1998, Ralph and Sandra Fisher of LaGrange lost their beloved pet, Chance. In their words, Chance was a “big bundle of loving.” He licked their faces and nuzzled up to them, unusual behavior for a full-grown, thousand-pound Brahman bull.
The kids loved him. Chance was more like a Bassett Hound than a bull. He followed the family around the yard. They took him to conventions and barbecues. He made appearances on television, including “The David Letterman Show.”
When Chance died at nineteen, the family was devastated.
Three months later, Ralph heard about a new Texas A & M University animal-cloning program. With Chance’s DNA, eleven months later, the first cloned bull was born.
Can you guess what they named him?
Bizarrely, when Ralph brought him home, Second Chance went straight to the spot where Chance used to lie in the yard. He walked like Chance walked. He made the same sounds and carried the same mannerisms as Chance.
“We’ve got Chance back,” Ralph thought. But the doctor cautioned, “You need to be careful. He’s not the same animal. He’s not a pet.”
Nothing violent happened until his fourth birthday party. Second Chance slammed Ralph to the ground, horns digging in. “He was just going through a stage,” Ralph dismissively explained. “He’ll settle down. He’s still ninety-five percent Chance. That’s good enough for me.”
When you love, you see what you want to see.
Nearly two years later, Second Chance suddenly gored Ralph. Eighty stitches. Cracked his spine. Broke his nose.
“Do you still think he’s ninety-five percent Chance?” they asked Ralph at the hospital. “Maybe eighty percent or seventy-five percent now?” Ralph said, “Oh no, I still see him as gentle and good as Chance. I forgive him. I’m going to walk out tomorrow and give him another bucket of feed.”
How far does love go?
Ralph’s love for Second Chance reflects how God extravagantly loves us. God sees the best.
We wound God; God loves us anyway. God forgives and keeps on forgiving. Why? Because when you love, you see what you want to see.
God saw the best in George Müller. He received multiple chances to return to the Lord when his life was off track.
In school, Müller would often be stirred when the scriptures were read in chapel. But he continued to fall away — convicted but unchanged, desiring God’s will but desiring his own will more.
Rather than reading the Bible, he spent his time reading spiritual tracts and biographies of godly persons. It was a form of spirituality, but Müller was always circling the periphery. “I never had been at any time of my life in the habit of reading the Holy Scriptures. When under fifteen years of age, I occasionally read a little of them at school; afterwards God’s precious book was entirely laid aside, so that I never read one single chapter of it till it pleased God to begin a work of grace in my heart.”
He preferred, in the first four years of his following Jesus, “the works of uninspired men to the oracles of the Living God.”
As such, Müller often drifted away from God, weak and without the power of the Holy Spirit. Then he had what he called his “second conversion.”
“The Lord enabled me to put it to the test of experience, by laying aside commentaries, and almost every other book, and simply reading the Word of God and studying it. The result of this was, that the first evening that I shut myself into my room, to give myself to prayer and meditation over the scriptures, I learned more in a few hours than I had done during a period of several months previously. But the particular difference was, that I received real strength for my soul in doing so.”
Müller’s soul was quickened. He was full of energy and joy. It was a new start and the blessed beginning of a life of trust in the Living God.
God wouldn’t give up on Müller, just as Ralph wouldn’t give up on Second Chance.
God won’t give up on you, either.
It doesn’t matter if you have neglected God. The important thing is what you do going forward. If you draw near to God, God will draw near to you. God won’t hold your past sins against you. God won’t stomp on your shame. “A broken and contrite heart, you will not despise (Psalm 51:17b, NIV).”
God is a God of second, third, and fourth chances. God loves to redeem.
If you find yourself in need of a second chance, how do you return to God?
The first step is to get tired of the way you’re living now. In Alcoholic Anonymous culture, there’s a saying: I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. It’s time for you to say, “I’m fed up. I’m tired of spiritual weakness. I’m tired of feeling overworked, unfruitful, and distant from my Heavenly Father.”
In The Message version of Jeremiah 29:13, God says, “When you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.”
The second step is to admit your sins. Name your failures. Ask the Spirit to help you confess your sins, as well as reveal the root of those sins. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9, NIV).”
The last step in returning to God is to let go. Give God control of your heart. Let go of your life and see what God can do with it.
The word forgiveness in the Bible suggests a hurling away of something from something else. It’s a separation and total detachment. When God forgives you, God “lets it go.”
Every day you can pray, “God, I’m letting go of my life today. I’m placing it in your hands. Thank you for forgiving me and giving me another chance to turn to you today.”
Every prayer is a kind of second chance. It’s an opportunity to believe. It’s a turn toward God, opening fresh possibilities. That's what God's love can do.
It’s almost comical, the love Ralph had for Second Chance.
Such is the love of God towards us.
In light of God’s amazing love and forgiveness, you can be born again today. You can start again.
Prayer Principle #37: When God gives you a second chance, take it.